Exploring a Move to Jackson Hole?

Si Matthies – Wealth Manager Wells Fargo Bank

When exploring a move to Jackson Hole there is much to consider: the beauty of Grand Teton National Park, the proximity of Jackson to some of the best fly fishing in world, endless hiking and biking trails, the cultural opportunities found in our galleries, concert halls and museums and the abundant wildlife throughout Teton County.

Another aspect that future residents should carefully consider is the tax climate found in Wyoming. Wyoming is a very attractive state in which to establish residence because of its lack of income tax (state income tax is constitutionally prohibited), its attractive trust laws (Wyoming allows 1000 year trusts) and no estate or gift taxes at the state level.

These are often convincing factors and the tax savings can mitigate the cost of a move and the establishment of domicile in Jackson Hole in short order.  Done right, these factors also allow new residents to enjoy their lives here in Jackson while knowing that they’ll be passing along more of their estate to loved ones generations down the line.

States, in an effort to raise receipts; have become much more aggressive taxing estates, inheritances and gifts.  According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, 19 states, representing 30%+ of the U.S. population, tax estates of those who die or inheritances passed from an estate to an individual.  Most of those states have an exemption amount (that which can pass untaxed) much lower than the current federal exemption of $5.25MM.  Only two states (Delaware and Hawaii) mirrors the federal exemption.

So, Wyoming has it all…beautiful scenery, recreational opportunities, a thriving cultural scene and a very advantageous tax regimen.  All of these are good reasons to consider Wyoming your new home.

But what about leaving your former domicile?  States are paying much greater attention to how you depart. If done incorrectly, you may find yourself owing taxes in a state that you thought that you had left.  The courts are littered with cases of states chasing their former residents for taxes owed.
Here are some tips on how to depart:

– Purchase a one-way ticket to Jackson, Wyoming. Keep a copy of all travel receipts and records including additional luggage receipts for at least 2 years.

– Ship all furniture, household items, personal effects, furnishings and any tangible or intangible owned property to Wyoming.  That includes cleaning and vacating all storage facilities.

– Use a standard form letter to close all financial accounts including checking, savings, brokerage, money management, credit cards, ATM cards, safe deposit boxes, revolving credit arrangements and any other financial relationships that may represent a relationship within the former state.

– If you own property in the former state and are claiming homestead status, re-characterize to standard property tax rates.

– Surrender your driver’s license.

– Send letters of resignation to all fraternal organizations, religious organizations, non-profit boards of directors, athletic clubs and country clubs.

– Send a form letter to doctors, dentist, optometrist, psychologist and psychiatrist terminating your professional relationship and advising that you are leaving the state and where you’ll be residing.

– Send similar notification to lawyers, accountants, business managers, CPAs and service providers such as domestic help, grounds keepers and schools.

– Complete a change of address form at the post office.

– Terminate your telephone listing.

– Dispose of any cemetery plot or crypt.

– Finally, document all your movement in and out of state. Phone records, credit card records and airplane tickets should be retained for a minimum of three years. These records can be very help at heading off a court date with the state tax commissioner.

Some of this may seem extreme, but many states have become very aggressive chasing former residents, claiming that, based on remaining connections to the state, they have not changed their domicile.

Nordic Skiing: It is not what you think!

I guess when I moved to Jackson Hole over 15 years ago, I thought the “only” skiing was downhill skiing, and that the other type of skiing was for old people. After all, cross-country skiing predated alpine skiing by about 4,000 years. In my eyes, there was no benefit to cross-country skiing. Quite frankly, when I saw Nordic skiers around the valley, they moved at the pace of a gray haired snail. No thanks!

Until….one day. In the words of Gru from Despicable Me, “LIGHTBULB!” All of this time, I had been trudging through massive amounts of snow, soaking my winter boots to the core, and only making it about 25 yards when I could have been gracefully (and more importantly, quickly) gliding around on skis. So, that winter I decided I was going to try Nordic skiing, and I went out to buy my first pair of cross-country skis. Keep in mind, the only Nordic skiing I had done was on the 90’s most famous calorie burner, the NordicTrack. When I visited Skinny Skis, Jackson’s local house of Nordic gurus, I was like a deer in headlights. However, their experts convinced me that the newer, wider backcountry cross-country ski was the way to go. A wider ski was developed for breaking trail on ungroomed snow. I didn’t care about that, but I was thrilled about the fact that I wouldn’t have to balance my weight and maintain an upright position on a pair of toothpicks. And so, my love for cross-country skiing began.

As an official cross-country skier, I explored the entire Jackson Hole area and discovered so many new trails and routes. I found the downhill to be most exhilarating although I had my fair share of yard sales – a term used to describe losing your gear in a crash. As I skied on groomed trails, I noticed sleek, swift skiers flying past me on what looked like narrow cross-country skis, but their form was completely new to me. What they were doing looked exciting and fast. I did my research only to find this was a quickly growing sport called skate skiing. Cross-country skiing is essentially the gateway activity to skate skiing. I was in! I bought my first pair of skate skis after renting only once. Skate skiing was intense and allowed me to eat more as the fat on my body melted away. Sign me up. The greatest benefit of skate skiing is that you can quickly cover a lot more ground than you can on classic (cross-country) skis. However, the downside is that you have to find groomed tracks unless you’re hardcore. Skate skiing opened eyes to a whole new world in Jackson Hole.

Jackson Hole offers so many fabulous options for both classic and skate skiing. My first and most favorite adventures have been in Grand Teton National Park. The scenery is pristine and the views are out of this world. The whole experience fills up my soul. If you’re looking for an outing where you are surrounded by the beauty of nature, Grand Teton National Park is your place. The skiing options are endless. From parking lot at the Bradley and Taggart trailhead, you can strap on skis and get outside. Fun, semi-challenging cross-country ski excursions include gliding around the Bradley-Taggart loop or touring through the snow-covered forest to Jenny Lake. Both of these routes offer undulating terrain with an “off piste” experience not to be missed. But, don’t forget to pack a lunch. The workout equivalent to the NordicTrack times four and you’ll definitely want to nosh on something under the Tetons. Bring your camera, too. These views need to be documented.

Over the past few years, Grand Teton National Park has groomed the snow covering the main road through the park. Here, you can easily classic ski in the machine made tracks to Jenny Lake, or you can skate smoothly toward Signal Mountain. This track is fabulous for the novice. It is relatively flat with a few curves and always excellently groomed. The surroundings are like those from a fairytale. Perfect.

If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, try heading through Kelly toward Antelope Flats Road. Instead of turning left on this road, you will drive straight and the road ends in a parking lot. From there, you are able to enjoy the more groomed Nordic trails in the eastern portion of Grand Teton National Park. This trail is for the beginner unless you decide to venture up the hill toward Shadow Mountain. Shadow Mountain is a mountain, after all, so the uphill is grueling, but the downhill is sweet. On both of these groomed trails in the park, dogs are allowed on leashes. I have harnessed mine and let them pull me up the hill toward Shadow.

The Moose-Wilson Road, accessed through Teton Village, is also a wonderful classic ski outing in Grand Teton Park. Park your car at Granite Canyon trailhead and choose your path: head to the west toward Granite Canyon or follow the snow-covered road north toward Death Canyon. It is always an option to break your own trail and head east toward the Snake River. The river levy is a delightful place to ski where you can enjoy views of the Sleeping Indian.

There are two great phenomenons to enjoy in Grand Teton National Park: crust cruising in the springtime and full moon skiing (get your head out of the gutter) in the winter. Spring days are warm and the nights are cold. Snow begins to melt creating a wet layer on top that freezes at night making the layer hard and glassy. If you get out of bed early enough to enjoy this rarity, it can be a cardiovascular push and spiritual awakening. It’s best for skate skier, but classic skiers can enjoy cruising, too. The frozen flats and open spaces are the best places to ski, but you can go just about anywhere in the park. The second most awesome thing to do in Grand Teton National Park is Nordic ski when a full and bright moon lights the way. There are only a few occurrences during the winter, so don’t miss out. Remember to take your headlamp. The nights are bright, but there are still obstacles along the way that might not be very visible at night. Moonlight skiing is ideal for a romantic adventure with your honey, so pack a bottle some snacks and a bottle of vino. Two thumbs up.

There are so are many other great Nordic options in Grand Teton National Park. You can not find a more beautiful spot to perfect your glide or just learn the sport.